February is Women in Horror Month!
And while I’m not officially affiliated with the WiHM (Women in Horror Month) crew found here, I am a woman and I read, write, watch and LOVE horror.
WiHM is at its core about equal rights and fostering opportunities for underrepresented females in the genre (particularly in the film industry). And I’m all for that. Check them out and see what they’re organizing this month in your area.
However, my reasons for celebrating and supporting women in horror is much more personal. And selfish.
My back story…
I am not in the film industry. I’m a writer. But, what you may not know is that I once wanted to work in the film industry. In fact, much of my high school career was spent with a video camera in hand. I spent countless hours “editing” footage using the only things I had at the time: two ancient VHS players, a small stereo and a box of abandoned cables that I found buried at the bottom of our storage unit. I had no idea what I was doing and no one to guide me. None of my friends shared my interest beyond reluctantly letting me cast them in my melodramatic skits.
When I was finally introduced to the equivalent of the “A.V. club” at my school, and the possibilities of doing it with real equipment, and the potential to do it “when I grew up”, you know what stopped me from joining? Someone told me that I was “too weak” to get into that business. Which struck me as really odd, since I had never thought about being “strong” or “weak” having anything to do with it. But you can bet it made me pause. And I wish it hadn’t. I never pushed play on that dream again.
My point here is not to take up the issue of women being discriminated against in the film industry. I honestly think that the comment was not sexist, that the focus was on me, as an individual, not my gender. And I think this person just didn’t want me to leave for Hollywood like I was planning. 😉 I only mention the whole failed film career thing because I think it ties WiHM’s manifesto to my own.
Girls, follow your dreams. More specifically, follow the ones to write horror (what I do now). Why? Because I like to read it. Simple as that. I like to read it. See, told you it was selfish 😉 I’m not kidding. Sometimes I feel like holding a cardboard sign on a street corner, begging to be fed.
Reading, watching and writing horror is how I make sense of the world, how I make sense of myself and how I make sense of (most importantly) being a woman. I have a feeling that I’m not alone on that.
Girls, you have important things to say, even if they’re dark. And your voice, your stories, are (I don’t care what anyone tells you) influenced by your personal experience growing up as a girl. You are a girl, soon to be woman, and you are different than a man. And that’s a good thing. Something that you should value and acknowledge. You want to play with the boys, fine. But that doesn’t mean you have to emulate one or dress like one (unless you want to).
I look again at the moment when I turned away from my dream mentioned above, and I wonder what it was that could have saved it. I think, what stopped me was: a) not enough exposure and b) not enough encouragement. And ultimately, I could have sought out more exposure, I just needed some encouragement to look for it. So really, it all comes down to encouragement.
Obviously, as we approach the leaving-the-nest age we are pretty impressionable. It’s why preteens and teens are targeted for, like, EVERYTHING in the marketing world, right? So why not use that time to throw as much women penned horror fiction as you can in front of our girls, and see what gets picked up.
The more well-written horror (written by women) that they are exposed to, the more likely they are to believe that they can do it themselves. Why do I think that? Because I believe in the power of common denominators.
What I mean by common denominators…
You can put fiction written by a female in front of a girl who’s interested in writing. You can put horror fiction in general in front of her. You can put fiction of any genre, written by either sex, in front of her, too. Certainly, do that. But when you want to capture and harness their enthusiasm for something, the more common denominators you can point to, the better.
You put a book in front of a kid interested in writing, they may be inspired.
A book written in a genre they are particularly interested in, even better.
A book in a genre of their interest that’s targeted toward their age group, even BETTER!
Is the MC the same sex?
Is the MC easy to relate to?
Does the story take place in their city or state? —
You get the picture.
Even as an adult this still works for me. If I read something of quality written by someone from Seattle, I am instantly more positive of my own chances. Same thing if I read something written by a peer or writing group pal. It’s the little connections with things that encourage me—those common denominators that take what can be a very intimidating thing (following one’s dream) and make it more…attainable.
How I plan to show support (AKA what’s to come on the blog this month)…
Throughout the month I am going to be doing some reviews of horror fiction written by women. My hope is to put these books in your hands, so that you may put them in the hands of someone else, and they will pass it on again. If during all of this sharing, they make it into the hands of a girl who wants to write horror, PERFECT! That’s the goal. If they don’t? At least I’ve been supporting the women who wrote them, strengthening the environment at large. So that each generation of women in horror to come will find the landscape still flourishing.
The books I will be reviewing are coincidentally all Young Adult. I didn’t plan it that way that just happened to be the best female penned horror fiction I read this year. But I think it works perfectly with my message of common denominators and encouraging girls to write horror, don’t you think?
First review coming soon. Stay tuned…